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       Death to the Beast

                     Click for music.  Player will open on separate page.              

                Celebrating 400 Years of Anglicanism in America at the Old Jamestown Church

Saturday
Jul192014

Two Relevant Articles

The first is by Al Mohler on the Church of England's decision to open its episcopate to women.  Sound of nail being hit on head here:

This is the kind of “compromise” that pervades mainline liberal Protestantism. It shifts the church decisively to the left and calls for mutual respect. Conservatives are to be kindly shown the door. Ruth Gledhill of The Guardian [London], one of the most insightful observers of religion in Great Britain, recognized the plight of the evangelicals, though she celebrated the vote: “In the last 69 episcopal appointments, there have been evangelicals but not a single conservative one.” In this context, “conservative” means more concerned with doctrinal matters and opposed to a change in the church’s teachings on gender and human sexuality. But, as Gledhill recognized, “This wing of the church is where so much of the energy is, giving rise not just to growth, but also that necessary resource, cash.”

Yes, there is another pattern to recognize — evangelicals have the growth and the cash, just not the votes. The talk about mutual flourishing is really an argument to remain in the church and keep paying the bills.

Ruth Gledhill is profoundly right about another aspect of Monday’s vote as well. It won’t stop with women bishops. “Now the church can move into the 20th century, although perhaps not the 21st,” she wrote. “A change on gay marriage would be needed to do that.” Well, stay tuned, as they say. The same church now has bishops living and teaching in open defiance of the church’s law on sexuality as well.

There is a very real sense in which Monday’s vote was inevitable. Once the church had decided to ordain women as priests, the elevation of women to bishop was only a matter of time. But the Church of England explicitly claims apostolic succession back to the earliest years of the church, traced through bishops. That is why virtually every major media outlet in Britain acknowledged, at least, that the vote reversed 2,000 years of Christian tradition. They also tended to note that the vote came after 20 years of controversy.

Evidently, 2,000 of years of tradition was no match for 20 years of controversy.

The second article is one from Carl Trueman on Reformed theology for a church in exile.  I discern a bit of synchronicity in the way these two articles appeared almost at the same time.  When I read them, they make me almost wish orthodox Presbyterian churches would create their own Anglican Ordinariates.

Almost.  I intend to die an Anglican, but I agree with Trueman's article and its applicability to the future of Anglicanism, if it is to have much of one.  At ACNA's first Inaugural Assemby in 2009, then-OCA Metropolitan Jonah Paffhausen addressed the crowd in an ecumenical capacity.  Jonah had a number of recommendations for the new church, all of which predictably amounted to "become Orthodox."  A principal recommendation, pontificated Jonah: lose your Calvinism and your other "Reformation heresies."  No surprises there, but I think our own particular, historical brand of "Calvinism" is exactly what we need to find, or exile may be the least of our worries.

Saturday
Jul192014

One Picture; A Thousand Words

                

Story and additional photos of interesting array of clerical dress here

Commentary:  "Church of England.  Why do you ask?"

Thursday
Jul172014

Fr. Robert Hart Knocks One Out of the Park

Monday
Jul142014

Contra Mundum Redux

Mark Tooley on St. Athanasius' steady and unrelenting defiance of the Powers That Be.  Words for today, as traditional Christians will be, and even now are, facing Antichrist's onslaught both in the secular realm and the ecclesial one.  I don't know about you, but these things don't depress me;  they only make me relish the fight.

And we have a hero in this regard in the person of the venerable and indefatigable orthodox bishop of Alexandria. 

Sunday
Jun292014

Lent and the Academic Theologian

Saturday
Jun282014

Kings and Presidents

           

Thursday
Jun262014

I Wish I Had Read This Book as a Young Seminarian

A Little Exercise for Young Theologians.  Please see the editorial and customer reviews to get a sense of what Thielicke was trying to communicate to men being groomed for ministry.  Though I wasn't being groomed for the ministry back in the early 80s, I developed exactly the same kind of mindset the author warns against.  Thank God the church was protected back then from the likes of me, and thank Him as well that both the years and the school of hard knocks have instilled in me a different mind.  Now, at age 60, I am finally fitted for ministry.  Or so that's what I think I've discerned, anyway.  The church has to discern it as well.

Throughout the years I have encountered a number of young theology students who either lost sight of what theology was supposed to be about or had never gained it in the first place.  Unfortunately, some of them have become pastors.  I pray they won't end up doing too much damage to themselves, their flocks and/or to the wider church, and that as they mature in their ministry they will develop better minds, being of course not a reference to what they know or their intellectual horsepower, but how they employ their knowledge pastorally. 

Anyway, I found a great review of Thielicke's book, which I am compelled to republish in its entirety.  It's from a Presbyterian blog called Ordained Servants Online, and if this article in any indication of the blog's spirit, the blogger has ordained servanthood down:

A Little Exercise for Young Theologians

Gregory E. Reynolds

When I think back on my brashness as a young theologian, I shudder; and whenever that same brashness rears its ugly head today, I shudder still; but age and Christian experience have at least taught me to recognize this monster within.

Very early in my Christian life, while still considering a call to the ministry, I came across a little booklet first published in 1962 by Eerdmans entitled A Little Exercise for Young Theologians.[1] I recognized the author, Helmut Thielicke (1908–86), from my reading of his Encounter with Spurgeon[2] in Bible school in 1972. I have exercised myself with this sage booklet at least once a decade ever since, and never without profit, since the demon of pride is ever in need of being exorcised.

While avoiding the dangerous dichotomy of setting the Christian life over against doctrine, Thielicke doesn't confuse the two by eliding doctrine into life. One without the other is a sign of spiritual illness. Thus, he addresses his seminary students like a wise father:

You can see that the young theologian has by no means grown up to these doctrines in his own spiritual development, even if he understands intellectually rather well the logic of the system ... There is a hiatus between the arena of the young theologian's actual spiritual growth and what he already knows intellectually about this arena.[3]

Thielicke goes on to liken early theological training to puberty, during which it is as unwise to unleash the novice on the church as a preacher, as it would be to let the young singer sing while his voice is changing.[4]

Furthermore, time spent in the lofty realms of truth makes the novice susceptible to the "psychology of the possessor," in which love is sadly absent. "Truth seduces us very easily into a kind of joy of possession."[5] "But love is the opposite of the will to possess. It is self-giving. It boasteth not itself, but humbleth itself." But when "truth is a means to personal triumph,"[6] the young theologian returns home with a keen sense of membership in an esoteric club, displaying his rarefied tools to the annoyance of all and the hurt of some. Thielicke observes, "Young theologians manifest certain trumped-up intellectual effects which actually amount to nothing."[7]

The only cure for this malady, insists Thielicke, is an active faith that cultivates love, that is, living one's faith out of love for God and those around us. Our theology must be worked out in the life of the church,

We must also take seriously the fact that the "subject" of theology, Jesus Christ, can only be regarded rightly if we are ready to meet Him on the plane where he is active, that is, within the Christian church.[8]

and it must be worked out in light of eternity,

A well-known theologian once said that dogmatics is a lofty and difficult art. That is so, in the first place, because of its purpose. It reflects upon the last things; it asks wherein lies the truth about our temporal and eternal destiny.[9]

and it must be worked out in spiritual battle,

Thus it is possible to become an eschatological romanticist ... Such a person nevertheless has not comprehended a penny’s worth of what it means to live on the battlefield of the risen Lord, between the first and second coming, waiting and praying as a Christian.[10]

Thielicke knew the true exercise of a theologian's faith in spiritual battle. In 1935, he was refused a post at Erlangen due to his commitment to the Confessing Church, which opposed National Socialism, and in which Dietrich Bonhoeffer was famously active. In 1936, he became professor of systematic theology at Heidelberg. But he was dismissed in 1940 after repeated interrogations by the Gestapo. He went on to pastor a church in Ravensburg, and in 1942 began teaching in Stuttgart, until the bombing in 1944, when he fled to Korntal. After the war ended, he began teaching at Tübingen, and finally in Hamburg, where he pastored the large congregation of St. Michaelis.

Finally, Thielicke warns the young theologian—older ones need this, too—to beware of reading Scripture only as a matter of exegetical endeavor rather than God’s "word to me." He urges a "prayed dogmatics,"[11] in which theological thought breathes "only in the atmosphere of dialogue with God."[12] "A person who pursues theological courses is spiritually sick unless he reads the Bible uncommonly often."[13]

While we will not agree with Thielicke's theology at every point, the gist of his message to young theological students is so pointed that there is nothing quite like it in English. Within our own tradition, Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield delivered an address at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1911 entitled "The Religious Life of Theological Students."[14] In the strongest possible terms, Warfield pleads for a godly and learned ministry: "But before and above being learned, a minster must be godly. Nothing could be more fatal, however, than to set these two things over against one another."[15] He sums this emphasis up nicely, "Put your heart into your studies."[16]

No exercise in the young theologian's or minister's life is better calculated to keep him humble than regular contact with God himself. Warfield cautions his students:

I am here today to warn you to take seriously your theological study, not merely as a duty, done for God's sake and therefore made divine, but as a religious exercise, itself charged with religious blessing to you; as fitted by its very nature to fill all your mind and heart and soul and life with divine thoughts and feelings and aspirations and achievements. You will never prosper in your religious life in the Theological Seminary until your work in the Theological Seminary becomes itself to you a religious exercise out of which you draw every day enlargement of heart, elevation of spirit, and adoring delight in your Maker and Savior.[17]

We are, after all, called to be warriors; but the kind of spiritual warrior that Scripture calls us to be is not the gladiator seeking personal victory and glory, but rather the soldier of the cross who seeks to magnify the person of his Savior and Lord. J. Gresham Machen captured this spirit well in his sermon "Constraining Love." Christian militancy should never be confused with sectarian belligerence, hubris, or meanness of spirit. But pride can also move us to shrink in cowardice from defending the truth of the gospel. Machen made this clear in his sermon to the second general assembly of our, then, new church. How many movements, he asked,

have begun bravely like this one, and then have been deceived by Satan ... into belittling controversy, condoning sin and error, seeking favor from the world or from a worldly church, substituting a worldly urbanity for Christian love. May Christ's love indeed constrain us that we may not thus fall![18]

If Christianity teaches us nothing else it must teach us the value of the cross—the chief expression of God's constraining love for sinners. If we learn nothing else from the cross we must learn humility—a humility that clings to the Savior who died to save us. As we minister, whether young or old, we must always remember that "we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us" (2 Cor. 4:7).

Endnotes

[1] Helmut Thielicke, A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, trans. Charles L. Taylor (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962).

[2] Helmut Thielicke, Encounter with Spurgeon, trans. John W. Doberstein (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1963).

[3] Thielicke, A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, 10.

[4] Ibid., 12.

[5] Ibid., 16.

[6] Ibid., 17, 19.

[7] Ibid., 11–12.

[8] Ibid., 23.

[9] Ibid., 27.

[10] Ibid., 29–30.

[11] Ibid., 33.

[12] Ibid., 34.

[13] Ibid., 40.

[14] Benjamin B. Warfield, Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield, ed. John E. Meeter (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1970), 1:411–25.

[15] Ibid., 412.

[16] Ibid., 416.

[17] Ibid., 417.

[18] J. Gresham Machen, "Constraining Love," in God Transcendent and Other Sermons, ed. Ned Bernard Stonehouse (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949), 141.

Ordained Servant Online, February 2012. 

Monday
Jun232014

Article X: Of Free Will. (From the American Anglican Council)

Wednesday
Jun182014

Peter Robinson on Anglican Identity

I have written about the Affirmation (of St. Louis) several times in this blog, so I am not going to bore you with a reiteration of my observations, except to say that it went somewhat beyond a restatement of the traditional Anglican position. Certainly many of its provisions have common sense on their side - such as the provision that a 'non-political' method of electing bishops be found. However, what seems to have slipped by, almost totally unobserved, was a small provision which if consistently followed would revolutionize the Church. It is the simple provision that all pre-existing formularies be interpreted in accordance with this Affirmation. On the face of it, this is a very simple and sensible declaration, but its implementation effectively side-lined the Reformation inheritance of Anglicanism by justifying and making normative the Anglo-Catholic rejection of the Articles and Homilies. It also created a second, Catholic, string of revisionism within the Anglican tradition, and led to enormous conflict within the new Continuing Church as it became clear that although diversity of liturgical practice would be tolerated - at least for the time being - the theology was going to be Anglo-Catholic, and those who held a differing point of view could put up or shut up.

For those whose roots were more in the "orthodox middle" of Episcopalianism the new situation was a difficult one, and it was clear that not all would remain within the new Anglican Catholic Church. The United Episcopal Church was the initial fruit of the post-1980 brake up of the St Louis Continuum, which in some respects is a heavy burden to bare. However, the UECNA hit upon a middle course - more by accident than design. A return was made to an only slightly modified version of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church as they had stood in 1958, the only significant change to which was a specific protest in favour of the Articles of Religion in declaration of Conformity, coupled with a tendency to accept the moral and polity provisions of the Affirmation of St Louis. This neatly side stepped the "Catholic Revisionist" element of the Affirmation, but also committed the UECNA to the broad framework erected at St Louis.

The legacy of the 1960s and 70s remains with us in form of a great deal of unclearness about what constitutes Anglicanism. The worst aspect of this is that in addition to Liberal and Catholic Revisionists; we know have three streams Anglicans; Confessional Anglicans, and a half dozen other variants. At the end of the day, what we need more than anything else is a return to "mere" Anglicanism, an awareness of where we came from historically that can inform where the church should be going in the future. One of the beauties of Anglicanism has always been how it manages to be simultaneously both Catholic and Evangelical, and I suspect many of us are acutely aware of just how close we have come over the last forty years to loosing that side of our inheritance. Anglicanism, even orthodox Anglicanism, is always going to be a little bit frustrating for "Pure Ponders" who cannot cope with mess and differing ways of doing things, but it is that very messiness that makes Anglicanism so appealing for so many. Even in the days of rigid orthodoxy, Anglicanism always allowed different schools of thought to survive, even thrive, and it is that acceptance of a broad orthodoxy that we need to recover once more in order to thrive.

Read the entire article here.

Sunday
Jun082014

Nuts and Bolts of Liturgy

Thursday
Jun052014

The Prayer Book: It's History and Significance

 A talk by Fr. Ken Robertson of the Colorado Anglican Society.

Tuesday
Jun032014

Mainstream Anglicanism is Dead. Long Live Anglicanism.

When the lights go out.  Al Mohler on the Church of England.

“I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

Tuesday
Jun032014

A Canterbury Tale: Gone Anglican

Monday
Jun022014

Videos on the History of the English Bible

Courtesy of Truth Remains.

The commentary is slanted by the theological perspective of The Master's Seminary, which is free church Evangelical, Reformed and, alas, dispensational, but the videos are worth watching nonetheless.

Saturday
May312014

Announcing. . .

Colorado Anglican Society.

Will probably get involved.

Thursday
May292014

Why We're Protestants

The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar full of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred proof Grace—bottle after bottle of pure distilate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the Gospel—after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps—suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started. Robert Farrar Capon

Friday
May232014

Red Pill, Blue Pill

I recently stumbled upon a Facebook theology discussion page called Christians AGAINST the Heresy of Calvinism & TULIP, whose rules of participation read as follows:

For all BIBLE BELIEVERS (all 66 books) who see the cult of Calvin for what it is - dangerous, heretical, and unscriptural. Please join, please tell your friends, please post away! This is a place to share Bible truth that exposes the darkness of Calvinism and its putrid TULIP doctrines.

IF CALVINISTS MUST JOIN, PLEASE NOTE: This is a Group for NON-CALVINISTS. If Calvinists must join, they should limit their posts/comments. Moderate posting on the Wall by Calvinists is permitted, but excessive posting (by the discretion of the admins) will result in that person being banned from the Group. Calvinists are not to comment on Wall Posts (besides their own) unless the post specifically says that "Debate is permitted" or "Discussion is permitted," etc. However, in the Files/Documents section, anyone may post to their heart's content. Calvinists in violation of this policy will be permanently banned.

If that weren't humorous enough, here's their current cover photo:

We Reformed Matrix fans are chuckling.  From the Wiki article:

The red pill and its opposite, the blue pill, are pop culture symbols representing the choice between embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red pill) and the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue pill).

The terms, popularized in science fiction culture, derive from the 1999 film The Matrix. In the movie, the main character Neo is offered the choice between a red pill and a blue pill. The blue pill would allow him to remain in the fabricated reality of the Matrix, therefore living the "illusion of ignorance", while the red pill would lead to his escape from the Matrix and into the real world, therefore living the "truth of reality".

;)

Tuesday
May202014

Here's What's Wrong With Wright (Edited 5/21)

"Students who want to know how a Rabbinic Jew perceived humanity's place in God's world will read Paul with caution and Luther not at all. On the other hand, students who want to understand Paul, but feel that they have nothing to learn from Martin Luther, should consider a career in metallurgy. Exegesis is learned from the masters." - Stephen Westerholm

Pay close attention in this video to what Wright says, but more importantly, what he doesn't say:

Here's the thing about Tom Wright: he is a bold, prolific and top-shelf scholar; he is affable and easy on the ear; he is an engaging speaker; he stands within the pale of orthodoxy.  There is so much for an orthodox Christian to like about him, and accordingly he has many faithful Anglicans and Evangelicals in tow.

But he's wrong about the Gospel.  Nowhere in this thirteen-minute video does he even remotely suggest that the Gospel has anything to do with the imputed righteousness of Christ.  In fact, that is something he has avidedly denied:

What then about the ‘imputed righteousness’ about which we are to hear an entire paper this afternoon? This is fine as it stands; God does indeed ‘reckon righteousness’ to those who believe. But this is not, for Paul, the righteousness either of God or of Christ, except in a very specialised sense to which I shall return. There are only two passages which can be invoked in favour of the imputed righteousness being that of God or Christ. The first proves too much, and the second not enough. The first is 1 Corinthians 1.30f., where Paul says that Christ has become for us wisdom from God, and righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Wisdom is the main point he is making, and the other three nouns come in as a way of saying ‘and everything else as well’. ‘Yea, all I need, in thee to find, O Lamb of God, I come’; that line sums it up well. I doubt if this will sustain the normal ‘imputation’ theology, because it would seem to demand equal air time for the imputation of wisdom, sanctification and redemption as well. The second passage is 2 Corinthians 5.21, which as I have argued elsewhere is not, as a matter of good exegesis, a statement of soteriology but of apostolic vocation. The entire passage is about the way in which Paul’s new covenant ministry, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, is in fact God’s appointed means for establishing and maintaining the church. ‘So that we might become God’s righteousness in him’ means that in Christ those who are called to be apostolic preachers actually embody God’s own covenant faithfulness. I do not expect to convince you by this microcomsic summary of the point, but I submit that it deserves careful exegetical consideration, not dismissing with a wave of the hand and a reference to Brother Martin.

Is there then no ‘reckoning of righteousness’ in, for instance, Romans 5.14–21? Yes, there is; but my case is that this is not God’s own righteousness, or Christ’s own righteousness, that is reckoned to God’s redeemed people, but rather the fresh status of ‘covenant member’, and/or ‘justified sinner’, which is accredited to those who are in Christ, who have heard the gospel and responded with ‘the obedience of faith’. . . .

Traditional protestants may not like this much, but it is I submit what Paul is saying. And I want you to notice right away, before I draw some broader conclusions from all this, three things that follow. First, Paul’s doctrine of what is true of those who are in the Messiah does the job, within his scheme of thought, that the traditional protestant emphasis on the imputation of Christ’s righteousness did within that scheme. In other words, that which imputed righteousness was trying to insist upon is, I think, fully taken care of in (for instance) Romans 6, where Paul declares that what is true of the Messiah is true of all his people. Jesus was vindicated by God as Messiah after his penal death; I am in the Messiah; therefore I too have died and been raised. According to Romans 6, when God looks at the baptised Christian he sees him or her in Christ. But Paul does not say that he sees us clothed with the earned merits of Christ. That would of course be the wrong meaning of ‘righteous’ or ‘righteousness’. He sees us within the vindication of Christ, that is, as having died with Christ and risen again with him. I suspect that it was the mediaeval over-concentration on righteousness, on iustitia, that caused the protestant reformers to push for imputed righteousness to do the job they rightly saw was needed. But in my view they .

Since Wright penned these words (2003), a related controversy centered around whether or not he affirmed in his writings that justification occurs "on the basis" of works.  Initiallly Wright claimed that he never stated anything to this effect, until Thomas Schreiner pointed out from one of his writings that he said just that.  Wright then set forth a clarification about what he meant to affirm, which is that we are justified "in accordance with" our works, but one cannot escape the conclusion that Wright has dithered and is probably still dithering on the question.  In any case, he still rejects the traditional Protestant doctrine that we are justified by the imputation of Christ's perfect righteousness to us, and that a notional distinction needs to be made between justification and sanctification though these two are conveyed together in our union with Christ.

Regardless of where Wright's "clarifications" place him today, I would point my readers to the body of criticism that has arisen from Reformed, Reformed Anglican and Lutheran ranks which is responsive to Wright's assertion that traditional Protestants "have . . . distorted what Paul . . . was saying."  Here are a couple of links to representative literature:

The Doctrine of Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul

Challenging the New Perspective (at the Paul Page)

Monday
May192014

The Wrighteousness of God

Gerald Bray takes on Tom Wright and the New Perspective on Paul.

I already liked Bray but his stock just went up.

Sunday
May182014

Henry Wace on the Thirty-Nine Articles

The Main Purpose and Character of the Thirty-Nine Articles

By the Rev Prebendary Wace D.D.

(Ladies League Booklet No 18)

In order to appreciate the purpose and character of The Thirty-nine Articles, it should in the first place be remembered that the Articles belong to an age of similar productions. From the commencement of the reforming movement by Luther to the close of the sixteenth century, a succession of statements was put forth by the various Communions engaged in the struggle, declaring the position they held on the great questions in dispute. There is one mediaeval custom in respect to which more continuity with those times might with advantage be cultivated. The systematic habit of disputation had accustomed men to state in plain propositions the views they maintained, and their opponents were expected to do the same. Luther began with a series of very definite theses or propositions, which lie offered to maintain against all comers, and he was answered by the advocates of the existing system in similar propositions. Accordingly, when the reforming party were brought face to face with the existing authorities in the Diet of Augsburg, they were expected to state, in a series of plain propositions, what were the points for which they were contending; and they therefore presented a Confession, stating a number of Articles, or particulars, of their belief. They thought it wise to declare, in the first place, their acceptance of the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith; and then they proceeded to state the Articles or points on which they desired the reformation of doctrine or practice. These latter points naturally formed the most characteristic parts of the Confession, and marked out the distinctive principles which its authors asserted.

From that time forward the great struggle between the Papacy and the Reformation, between Romanism and Protestantism, went forward, until it divided every country in Europe; and it produced a series of Confessions of faith, all having the general object of the Augsburg Confession - that of declaring the position which its authors took up in the great religious struggle of the day. In particular, both in Germany and in England, Articles followed Articles. In our own country we had the Ten Articles of 1536, the Six Articles of 1539, the Forty-two Articles of 1552, and eventually the Thirty-nine Articles of 1563. The Church of Rome herself had felt it necessary to follow the general course, and in the Synod of Trent, between the years 1545 and 1563, she produced a series of decrees and canons, which stated, in equally definite Articles, the position she held on the great questions in dispute.

Now these simple facts are enough to illustrate the first and most important point which demands our attention, namely, that the Articles of Religion adopted by the Church of England, agreed upon, that is, by the Clergy of the Church of England in Convocation, and sanctioned by the lawful authority, must be taken as the special and characteristic declaration of the position of the Church of England in respect to the grand controversy of the sixteenth century. As the Augsburg Confession is the authoritative declaration of the teaching of the Lutheran Church; as the Westminster Confession is that of the Scottish Church; as the decrees and canons of the Council of Trent, supplemented by those of the Vatican Council, are the authorized and characteristic declaration of the teaching of the Roman Church, so the Thirty-nine Articles are the authoritative and characteristic declaration of the teaching of the Church of England. The teaching of all other Churches is brought to the standard of their respective Confessions. The Missal and the Breviary are not the standards by which the Council of Trent is interpreted; but the Decrees and Canons of the Council of Trent determine the grounds on which the Missal and the Breviary are to be defended, and the spirit in which they are to be used. In each case it is the Articles, the formal statements agreed upon by the clergy and sanctioned by the proper authorities, which are the standard of doctrine. In doubtful points, therefore - in points by which we are marked oft from other Communions - it is to the Articles that we must look for guidance, and it is by our Articles that we must be judged. If we want to know the mind of the Church of England we must study the Articles; if we wish to act in accordance with that mind we must be imbued with their spirit, and must teach in accordance with it.

What, then, speaking generally, is that spirit? Here, again, we are on the ground of sure and unquestionable facts. The Thirty-nine Articles are, beyond all question, a Protestant Confession. They definitely place the Church of England on the side of the great reforming movement of the sixteenth century. They are in some quarters disliked for this reason, and the very dislike is a strong testimony to the fact. Their very language is often drawn, on crucial points, from foreign Protestant Confessions - from the Confessions, for instance, of Augsburg and Wurtemberg; and they declare themselves, in the strongest manner, against the chief points of Roman doctrine and practice which the Protestant Reformers had denounced. An attempt has been made in our time, and is made still, to represent them as directed mainly against certain popular abuses, and not against the formal teaching of the Church of Rome. One or two simple but important facts seem sufficient to refute this suggestion. The Forty-two Articles were issued in 1552, and the Revised form of them in Thirty-nine Articles was issued in 1563. As already mentioned, the Council of Trent began its sessions in 1545 and concluded them in 1563. Historically, therefore, the Articles were drawn up and published in the face of the chief Articles of the great Tridentine Confession; and it is not conceivable that, in dealing with Roman doctrine and practice, their authors would leave on one side the express and authoritative statements of the Roman authorities.

But one particular point, of the greatest consequence to the whole argument, seems of peculiar interest in this matter. The Thirty-nine Articles are distinguished in one very important particular from previous Protestant Confessions. The Augsburg Confession, after the Article on God and the Persons of the Blessed Trinity, goes on immediately to the doctrines of Original Sin, the Incarnation, and Justification; and the Wurtemberg Confession subsequently follows this order. But in the Forty-two Articles and in the Thirty-nine Articles, immediately after what may be called the Articles of the Creed, comes the Sixth Article, “Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures,” and not until after that Article do we proceed to the Articles on Original Sin, on Justification, and the other points of the controversy. What was there to occasion the introduction of this Article on Holy Scripture at that point in the Forty-two Articles? The reason may be discerned, if we bear in mind, what has just been mentioned, that the Council of Trent began its sittings in 1545, and that immediately after its preliminary Confession of Faith, which was adopted, in its third Session, on February 4, 1546, it proceeded immediately in its fourth Session, on April 8 in that year, to its famous decree, Concerning the Canonical Scriptures in which it laid down the principle that the unwritten traditions, proceeding from our Lord or from the Apostles - unwritten, that is, in the Sacred Scriptures - were to be received with equal piety and reverence with the Holy Scriptures themselves.

That was a new thing in the controversy. The Reformers, abroad and at home, had had to contend indeed against the undue weight allowed to tradition, but it had not previously been made the formal rule of faith, as well as of practice, that the unwritten traditions of the Church should be accepted as of equal authority with the Scriptures on the points in dispute. Doubtless the Roman divines took this course because they had no other open to them. If they had allowed the controversy between themselves and the Reformers to be conducted on the basis of the Holy Scriptures alone, they must have been defeated; and consequently, with a true instinct for the weak point of their position, they asserted, as the basis of all their subsequent proceedings, the insufficiency of the Holy Scriptures as the rule of faith. Accordingly, when our Reformers put their Article, respecting the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation, in the forefront of their Confession, immediately after the Articles of the Creed, they were meeting the Council of Trent directly and face to face. They took up the challenge conveyed to them, not in popular misapprehensions and unauthorized practices, but in the formal and authoritative decision of the Council of Trent, then sitting; and they laid the foundation of all their subsequent Articles in a flat denial of the first and cardinal principle which the Roman divines asserted.

There could hardly be a case of more direct contradiction of what had been made by that Council the primary principle, the ratio decidendi, in the controversies then in question. The principle of our Articles throughout was thus that on which Luther took his stand ; and, as Bishop Marsh says in his “Comparative View” of the two Churches, it is “the vital principle of the Reformation.” By that single act our Church formally took her position on the Protestant side; and as the subsequent Roman decisions flow naturally from their admission of unwritten traditions as of Divine authority, so all the rest of our Articles, in opposition to those decisions, flow naturally from our rejection of the authority of such traditions.

But this assertion of the sole and paramount authority of Holy Scripture in controversies of faith is not merely of cardinal importance in the controversy; it indicates the whole character of the position which our Church assumes. It indicates, as I have said, that the Church of England is a Protestant Church. What is the meaning of that designation? The late Archbishop of Canterbury, in the remarkable legacy which he left us in his parting - we may almost say his dying - utterances in Ireland, declared that “people must very much mistake both the Church of Ireland and the Church of England if they imagine that everything wrapped up in the word Protestant is going to be overwhelmed.” He had seen before him at Dublin the motto, that the Church of Ireland is at once “Apostolic, Catholic, Reformed, and Protestant.” “There was not one of those words," he said, "that could be spared;” and he added that, “if ever we began to doubt whether it was necessary to lay so much emphasis upon that last word, events which have been occurring in the List few weeks . . . . warn us that that word is not to be forgotten. No,” he exclaimed emphatically, “it is not a word to be forgotten, but it is a word to be understood; a word which must not be used as a mere earthly, secular war cry.” “It is a word to be understood.” There is no truth which at the present moment we have more reason to take to heart. What is the meaning of the word “Protestant?”

There is a danger lest we should be content to accept it as a mere war cry, as Archbishop Benson expressed himself, by treating it as expressing a mere protest against certain abuses which are offensive to us. That is not the original meaning of the word. Its original meaning was positive, not negative. It was first used of those who were called Protestants in the Diet of Spiers, because they asserted that men were bound in conscience to follow the Word of God, no matter what human authority might be against them, and that no majority had a right to force consciences. The essential and positive meaning of the word “Potestant,” therefore, is embodied in our Sixth Article. When we call ourselves Protestants, when we proclaim that the Church of England is a Protestant Church, we are protesting that the Word of God - the word of the prophets of the Old Testament, the Word of Christ and his Apostles - is the one rule, the one supreme authority, which we recognize, and that we make it the main object of our lives, in private, in public, and in all Church affairs, to apprehend the truth, and to realise the ideals, which that word sets before us. We recognize, indeed, that the best realization which that Word has ever received in the Christian ages was exhibited in the Primitive Church, and we therefore look to that Church as a guide, which we hope never to desert in any important point of the interpretation of the Word of God. But, as Dr. Hawkins, of Oriel, said in his Bampton Lectures of 1840, “we are constrained to disallow the claim of infallibility and absolute authority, whether advanced on behalf of any particular Church, or of the Church Universal; of the ancient Church in the period of her comparative unity, as well as of the modern Church in her state of sad disunion ; yielding indeed, to use the words of Dr. Jackson, ‘a conditional assent and a cautionary obedience,’ wherever it is justly due; but never in any case conceding, except to the original messengers of revealed truth, absolute assent and unqualified obedience.”

That is the positive ideal of a Reformed and Protestant Church. We do not look for our ideals in the historical development of Christian Churches either in the West or in the East. Those developments have indeed produced noble results and grand institutions, which we thankfully venerate and cherish so far as they are in conformity with Scripture and the early Church, and so far as they tend to edification. But we aim at reviving among ourselves, more and more completely, primitive truth and primitive practice, animated, and perpetually purified, by recurrence to the living fountains of truth and life in the Holy Scriptures. We believe that a desertion of this ideal, a disregard of this Divine guide, was the source of the grievous corruption of the past; and we see signs-- alas! too strong signs among us now-that a similar error is tending-to similar corruption still.

We do not, indeed, lay any vital stress on mere externals. The Lutheran Church may remind us that a community may be intensely Protestant, maintaining most of the cardinal truths of Scripture with profound earnestness and unfailing vigour, and yet retain some of the symbols which have been associated with mediaeval superstitions. We do not, indeed, think it wise to encourage such external points of contact and sympathy with periods and practices of superstition. We do not think it wise, either in Priests or in Bishops, to adopt vestments and ceremonies which undoubtedly had their rise in a period when the influences were predominant against which we are struggling. But these are matters of secondary consequence except so far as they are connected, as it is to be feared to a great extent they are, with the introduction of practices of more importance and still more questionable. But what we do strive for is that life in the light of God's Word, that simple faith, that manly Christian liberty, that emancipation from mere forms and ceremonies, that independence of anything like sacerdotal authority, and that power of free national development, which were won for us at the Reformation by a recurrence to the simplicity of primitive truth and practice.

The Church of England, in a word, is Protestant, but not in the sense of being either Lutheran or Calvinistic, although she is in the main on the side of those great influences, as against the Roman Catholic influence. Nor is she, as is sometimes charged against her, a Church of compromise. That is the vulgar reproach too often thrown against the noblest characteristic of the English mind - its firmness and boldness in recognizing truth wherever it may be found, and refusing to shut its eyes, in the spirit of a partizan, to any portion of truth on one side or the other. But the Church of England is herself; and herself is first Scriptural, and then Primitive. The ideal which she pursues is a Catholic ideal, because it is an Apostolic one, and it is this Catholic and Apostolic ideal which she understands by the word “Protestant,” and which she will make her guiding star.